(EAST OOLITIC) - The community of East Oolitic gathered Tuesday night to combat crime in their town.
Lawrence Superior Court I Judge Michael Robbins and Lawrence County Police Department Detective Troy Lobosky addressed the group.
Concerns ranged from drug trafficking and manufacturing, to sex offenders moving into the neighborhood.
"Politicians have been talking about being tough on crime for years," Robbins says. "But it's not about that...we are on a squirrel cage...going round and round, we address the symptom, but not the problem."
Robbins says the key is community.
"It's about bringing a community together like they do in Judah, with festivals and fish fries and car shows," he added. "It's pulling people together to better the community."
Robbins told the group about the Window Glass Project, which encourages positive community support.
The project address the conditions in communities that often prove conducive to crime. "Project Broken Window," named after the theory that urban crime often spreads in neighborhoods and urban environments where broken windows, blight and disrepair are found
"If there is a broken window, you fix it. If an elderly neighbors yard needs mowed you see it gets done," Robbins says. "It only takes one person to start and then others see the small improvements and then others pitch in and it spreads and residents begin to take pride in their community. When someone sees another misbehaving they pull them aside and say we will not tolerate this behavior. You need to encourage good behavior and you do that by getting people involved. Everyone needs someone to believe in them...It gives the person hope and encourages them to take the right path and communities begin to thrive."
Community pride dispel the message that the neighborhood is an easy mark for burglars or vandals or other criminal activity.
In the spirit of nipping behavioral problems in the bud Robbin offers this "Anybody who gets away with something will come back to get away with a little bit more. But if a community comes together - those up to no good will often times stay away because they know the community will not tolerate the behavior."
Robbins believes in order to make a real difference in the community, it's important to address the causes of criminal behavior and to help local government to prevent it and he is doing that as judge and by developing programs that address the problem.
Lobosky says part of the problem is that people are so wrapped up in their lives they don't have time to look out for themselves, let alone their neighbors.
"Times are tough. The economy is bad. People are working two or more jobs to make ends meet," he added. "Communities need to be proactive and be aware of the activities in the neighborhood."
East Oolitic plans to bring their community together and take actions to improve their community. The community meets at the East Oolitic Community building the third Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m.
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